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Digital Business Insights Podcast #1 - Building Your Business Through Memberships

Do you have a skill to share that people are willing to pay for? Darren Jenkinson talks to Mike Morrison about how setting up a membership community can help you better leverage your time.

Listen on Itunes |  Listen on Stitcher

Podcast Highlights

2.09 What is a Membership Community

6.32 How Professional Wrestling started my journey to communities

7.00 How to apply a community approach to your business

9.56 Membership Communities take a certain type of person to make them happen

11.20 If your business is based around transferable knowledge, you’re a prime candidate for a membership site.

17.13 How TheMembershipGuys support community building

25.34 Technology can often be the biggest barrier

35.40 Tips for starting your own membership community


Darren Jenkinson: Hello! You’re listening to Digital Business Insights, a new podcast which looks at how digital businesses all over the world are using various techniques to grow and increase their profits. My name's Darren Jenkinson-

Liz Hardwick: And I'm Liz Hardwick, and we run a company in Lancashire in the north-west of the UK, called DigiEnable. We’re lucky enough to travel the country meeting various business people who are full of great advice on how to grow your business while still aiming for a better work-life balance.

Darren: In the majority of these episodes, we'll be interviewing business owners about how they've developed their businesses, as well as the advice they would give to others.

Liz: Sometimes we might throw in an extra episode if there's some exciting news in the digital sector, or just to share some of the techniques we use when helping businesses develop.

Darren: For our first episode, we wanted to start with a subject that we both get very excited about: sharing knowledge.

Liz: If you have the skill, or the ability to share knowledge with others, there's normally a way to build this into your business. Whether it's running workshops, webinars, or even one-to-one support, there is always someone who can benefit from what you know.

Darren: Some businesses have taken this model a step further by creating their own online communities, in which they share their expertise, and support over individuals and business owners to develop their skills in that particular expertise. These are known as membership communities, and our guest in Digital Business Insights Episode 1 is Mike Morrison from I spoke to Mike earlier and started by asking him to define, what a membership community was.

Mike Morrison: A membership community is basically any group of people who are gathered together around a shared interest, a common purpose, a hobby, a personality trait, and business, whatever. And that can be online, or offline. This is kind of like a group of people that- they are centred around something they've got in common. The context in which we work with them and when we talk about membership sites, and obviously the conversations like the one we're going to be having today. We are mainly talking about online based, usually with a bit of an e-learning elements or kind of a support network element to them but yeah essentially it's just people, just people that have gathered together for a common cause and hopefully paying somebody some money for facilitating that.

Darren: I think that's the interesting thing, isn't it, because the idea of teaching many people isn't new but it's quite limited, it's based on the capacity of the organisation or the size of the room, what memberships do is almost kind of remove that limit for you.

Mike: Absolutely, I mean, you know the internet, it seems hard to talk about the internet in terms of... you know it's provided all these great opportunities because it's been such a big part of the business world for so many years now, you know there is people starting to reach adult age who have never experienced life without access to the internet, however the slightly longer in the tooth like the two of us, you know we remember the days before that. The idea that you can bring together hundreds and even thousands of people of people and educate them and support them and build this great kind of network, this great connection between them regardless of where they are, regardless of, you know, without the kind of limitations and the logistical challenges that you would have had 10-15 years ago. It's still something that thrills me, that fascinates me and you know, it's continuously evolving.

Darren: So what was your journey into membership sites?

Mike: Well, I mean I have been in the web industry for about 15, 16 years now as a web designer, online marketer and so on and so that was kind of driven just by curiosity, you know when we first got the internet on in our school, I was hooked and when my friends were off trolling, I suppose that’s the word for them, trolling middle age women in AOL chat rooms, I was tinkering around with websites like building websites and front pages and geocites and so on. So also, the curiosity about what you can do with the internet and I was part of that, I was setting up and building little online communities from the early 2000's, mainly centred around gaming because I am a massive geek and yeah these were mainly just discussion forums or discussion groups where people would come together, some of them were paid, some of them were free, just to hang out online with people who shared interests. So that was all, it was kind of a hobby thing and then as the years went on and obviously when I set up my digital agency, then I worked on a number of different community projects for various companies of various sizes and so, it kind of just evolved from there, eventually started working with my partner, {Callie Willows}, she is the other membership guy, we had our digital agency together and then just over the years we kind of honed down and focused and niched down on the sort of work and sort of projects that we enjoy the most and we have the most success with which are communities and membership sites.

Darren: It's really interesting, isn't it, the idea of community because I remember my very first geocities site going back to, well it must have been about 97, 98 maybe and I grew up a huge pro wrestling fund, so one of the first things I did was set up a community where essentially I wrote a wrestling show every week but I found that people would just really wanted to be involved, and people would come, they would play a part, they'd actually almost create the community themselves but they needed that central person to hold it together.

Mike: That's actually so funny, the first... my first foray into online community, the first community I was part of was a, it was a community for a pro-wrestling video game. It was smack down 2, the play station game.

Darren: Very aware of it.

Mike: Yeah, that was my first involvement in a message board in a community and then I split off various things from there, so that's cool.

Darren: But it's great as transition, isn't it? Because we are talking about games and fun now, but it's absolutely got a business application.

Mike: Yeah and I think, I mean, obviously there was such a huge shift, I think in the way that the business world and the world at large outside of the bedrooms of geeks and gamers, started to view and started to utilise the internet. So when social media came, it exploded around 2000, it was about 2007 to 2008, when it started to really really steamroll, you know, social media wasn't a new thing, it's what we'd been doing all along, it was just the tools were different, you know, this idea that the internet was a two way street where you could connect with people, you communicate with people all wound the world, you can actually have friends who you develop relationships with that you have never seen, you have never actually met. That wasn't new to people to me and you who had been doing it for years through IRC chat rooms, through news groups, through really old school forum platforms and so on. So, the principles have always been there, it has just, took quite a while for the business world I think to really catch on to that and that obviously happened through services and platforms like Facebook, twitter and so on. So yeah it is interesting, first and how long it actually took for that kind of approach to using community as part of your business or building businesses around community, it is interesting how long that actually took the society and the business world to catch on to. You know I feel, if they listened to us geeks, we would be 5 or 10 years ahead of wherever you are now about.

Darren: Absolutely if you look back to, I mean it's quite, I suppose an advance platform but things like second life, that was a community and it's all right but I think what they caught on to quite faster when now seen with lots and lots of applications is the, if people value it and they are getting enough from it, they are also willing to pay for it.

Mike: Yeah I think Second Life is such a great example, I always forgot about Second Life as well because I was kind of, I think that was when people started seeing the dollar signs in terms of outsiders. You know people who had no interest in the online gaming element. But then all of a sudden realizing all these people are actually running legitimate, successful, big-money businesses through this online game. And then you've got the likes of World of War craft which obviously you know that's the behemoth with however many million users. And of course you look at that too if that many users with the commercialisation, opportunities off something like Second Life then there is money in it.

Darren: So your main job now what you guys do with the membership guys is you go out and you support businesses to implement membership schemes into what they do. Do you believe it can be applied to any kind of business?

Mike: I think it can be applied to any kind of subject, by extension any kind of business. I don't necessarily think it can be applied by any person. I think that the people involved are the key to it. If you have a business that is dealing in some sort of knowledge exchange or some level of expertise, whether it’s coaching or you know you're selling a skill or service or an end result. Then having a membership site, an online membership community is a way of better leveraging your time, your knowledge experience, expertise and moving away from this standard approach exchanging time for money on a one to one basis. And I do think they are actually pretty much any subject you can turn into some sort of membership site whether it's simply a site that provides resources to people on you know on a more exclusive basis or on a lower cost basis to what they would be able to acquire them for. If they were just coming to you directly on a one to one basis or whether it is just providing support on a platform for giving people access to you and your knowledge and so on, or you know online learning. E-learning is such a big part of most of what we do. If you've got something you can teach someone, if your business is based around transferable knowledge then you are a prime candidate for membership business. But it is all about having the right sort of person and having the right approach because probably one of the biggest myths about membership sites is that they are a shortcut to passive income. And I hate the term passive income; passive income is never passive. With the exception of either you know the rarest examples or the rip off schemes. I don't know anybody who read The Four Hour Work Week- Who only works four hours a week except maybe Tim Ferris because he's got all these people buying his book. So if you're going into centre of the members of community with the idea that it's going to be a quick route to passive income then that's a wrong mind-set and you're probably not going to put in the time, the work and the effort that's needed to make it successful. But rather than possibly what it does is enable your business a switch to recurring income and accumulating income. So that is just for a lot of businesspeople a big shift because recurring, accumulating revenue is predictable, it's stable. You're not living and dying by you know, individual clients. You're not subject to the sort of problems you have where that month’s financial survival ability of your business is related to a big five or six figure project from one client. So you kind of, it moves you away from having those kind of point of vulnerability I think in your business where at the end of the day if you work for clients it's essentially the same as being you know employed, except you know you've got three or four different bosses with their own idiosyncrasies. And if someone decides to fail you that could be a third of your business completely down the drain. So, yeah running off in a completely different tangent book called out because I do think pretty much any sort of business can find an element that would suit in reducing or adding a membership community to their offering but not every kind of business person is right for running a membership committee.

Darren: I had this conversation quite recently with a friend of mine, runs her own business very very into the creative arts type stuff, and I was trying to say to her actually a community is a perfect things for you because people want to learn new skills and whether that's how to draw or how to crochet anything along those lines if you put good enough content out there and support that community there are people that will be willing to pay you that monthly fee for it.

Mike: Yeah and I think you know a lot of that is because of society these days are not to go off too far down down a kind of path but you know I grew up in a quaint little village where everybody knew everybody and you know if somebody suspicious was wondering around the streets among part of the village a chain of phone calls go round. You know have you seen such and such... You know it’s that kind of place I went to, there was a lot of community spirit, a lot of community activity. Now I can’t tell you the names of my next door neighbours and you know I've spoken them a few times and we said hello when we pass and stuff like that, I couldn’t tell you their names. I couldn’t tell you the name of anybody on my street. I can't actually tell you the name of anybody I've lived near for probably the last ten years or so because I think that's kind of more how society is now. People are more insular, there's less community available on your doorstep. So you know...

Darren: ...people are reaching out online for that community.

Mike: Exactly you know we are kind of trying to fill in the gaps that are left by your society and local communities becoming a lot more insular. And it of course you do so get pockets of local community but you know when you know that you can go online and if you can find the community full of people just like you with the same interests, the same hobbies, same passions then that's something worth paying for.

Darren: Absolutely. I think also it turns you into a twenty four hour business because I’m a member of a couple of membership communities and the biggest advantage is I can do my work on there seven in the morning, eleven o'clock at night, whatever time suits me it's not just when the business is actually open.

Mike: Absolutely I mean you know, see we have our role membership site right now and that’s a core part of our business. So you know increasingly we’re working with a smaller and smaller number of very select clients on their membership projects and primarily focusing on our membership community. So I think we've actually had a sit down meeting with the client once in the past twelve months so you know when you're saying about you hope you’ll do your work seven o'clock in the morning what have you. That's all. We run a digital agency where we can do got you know we can sit around in pyjamas and sweatpants all day and conduct business at any time of the day. You know if you got a touch of insomnia and can't sleep you know you can actually jump in to your community and converse with people who are still around on the other side of the world and so on, it's great.

Darren: Well let's talk a little bit more about your business because I think that the membership academy is actually a really really valuable offer that you guys have got because it's not just about how to create a community once you're in there it’s the whole process on how to find people to join; how to on-board them in the first place. It's also how to deal with people that might want to leave will take breaks.

Mike: I think that's the side of things that people miss out on because obviously having a membership community particularly one that’s based around e-learning there's other ways of selling e-learning product. Typically e-books or one of courses and so on but the mistake a lot of people make is applying some of the principles from those products to membership communities. Mainly in terms of focusing all on the sale so if you're selling a book, you're selling an online course once you've got the sale your job’s done. You know you provide them with what they've bought and then you move on to try to hunt down the next customer. With a membership site your commercial relationship and your relationship with the customer begin with the sale, it doesn't end with a sale. It's not enough to just get someone to join your membership community you need to get them to stick around month on month, year on year. So what happens after you've got that sale is vastly more important than what you do to actually get the sale in the first place. And that comes to the, you know the often pulled out adage about it’ll cost you four times... I've seen it say six or seven times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. And that's something that applies to membership site. It is so much easier to put in the work and make sure that you put in the effort to keep your members happy; to keep people satisfied; to help them towards the transformation or the results their looking forward in the membership site. And as a result keep them sticking around, keep them paying you, keeping up accumulated revenue building and that's something that is missed by so many people. So that's probably the big part of what we try to educate people on with member site academy, with our blog posts, with our podcast, with everything, to think beyond that sale. And remember you're not dealing with customers you're dealing with members. Yeah and we’re having a lot of good stuff going on in the academy and the great thing with members of the academy as well as it’s kind of a case study. So people are joining to kind of learn from them stuff that we're teaching. But also to watch what we're doing with the whole membership site which makes it a little daunting because you know if you're going to run a membership site about membership sites you need to be on point really you know but it’s fun it's a lot of fun and it's going really well so far.

Darren: I think bringing those last two points together there is this idea sometimes that online businesses are the easy routes to riches but it's not a simple process it's not like you just set up a membership community and then it works. You have to be committed to making it work.

Mike: Yep. And the thing is you know though there will be people who will listen to the show and they’ll think, well I have setup a kind of auto-piloted what have you. You know I do have passive income from a membership site and sort. They're always and means but for us it's more about having an actual, you know, a meaningful membership site that actually delivers results; that helps us transform, no not in a way that means we don't have to do any work, you know, we’d actually get bored quite quickly if we had no work to do but in a way that lets us work the way we want to work. You know to be location independent, to take a four week holiday if we want to and all we need to check in on the business, you know, for an hour a day. It's not about making seven figures a month or making money without doing any work whatsoever. It's more about getting the balance between the lifestyle that we want; doing the kind of work we want to do because we love that stuff, you know. We love educating people; we love supporting people, we love being part of a community as a business- so much better than building websites for a living.

Darren: And it must be such a good feeling as well certainly from the conversations we've had the message of the exchange you always sound very passionate about what you do but also very happy to be doing the work and part of that must come down to is that you're seeing success after success and I know some of the businesses you were with have jumped from five figures to seven figures within a relatively short space of time using this method.

Mike: Yeah you know projects like that... I’m not sure about rewarding; fulfilling, yeah fulfilling is the right word because you know you're seeing it grow. You know you're seeing projects that you're involved with grow before your eyes and usually your so entrenched in actually making that happen that you've got those wonderful moments where you know you actually take a step back and think wow, you know, look at what we've done and look at what we've helped somebody else to do and bring out our favourite client biggest success story of projects have been involved in was a guy with a blog who was making a couple of thousand dollars a month income selling an info product, taking donations from his readers. And it's now a multi-million dollar a year membership community and we were there from, we helped him create the membership community, strategise it, we were there from day one and it has just been so amazing to just be a part of that growth from, you know, day one- no members, through to I think there are about fourteen thousand members now. And that's amazing to be a part of, and obviously with the academy which we didn't have at the time when I was with this project that the academy launched four, five months ago. With the academy would now seeing people kind of take our teachings or advice, follow our courses and start to find that kind of success for themselves and even just seeing the small wins that people make of all the small steps that they take with their business because it's obviously we’re not building sites for them, we're not giving them individual marketing strategies but they... we're providing them with the resources, with the education and all that stuff that they need. And then they go on out there and are doing it for themselves which is empowering to them and they're passionate about it and we kind of feed off that passion as well. And we love this stuff because it kind of marries all the sort of things up myself and Callie are interested in you know. I'm a web designer, developer/marketer and this is combo of all that stuff. As well as you know, business, as well as community, just everything, very cool.

Darren: I think that certainly comes across, I mean that's one of things I really like about what you guys do is that you do sound passionate about saying... anyone listening to this podcast should absolutely checkout your podcast on because every time you're on there, it's almost like the kind of child in a sweet shop- you're so excited about what you’re talking about, it is hard not to get infected by them.

Mike: That’s cool. it is very nice of you to say. I do worry about that because with this accent, you know, getting excitable isn't always best. The best thing for being legible and I do actually trying to soften my accent a little bit, you know, I could be like, WHY AY MAN, WE LOVE MEMBERSHIP SITES UP HERE IN NEWCASTLE! But I try and soften it for the non-northerners but it is kind of like when you get drunk you know, when you get excited the accent kicks in a little bit.

Darren: So with membership communities it's obviously a good idea but as we’ve said you need to be committed, you need to have a good idea. You need to have almost a system in place which is where you guys come in. What are the biggest challenges that people tend to face?

Mike: There's a few, the technological side of things is probably the most universal one you know, because with a membership site- there's a kind of two ways to it. You can go the easy quick route of using a facilitated service such as rainmaker or teachable or my mind has gone blank, they've just re-launched, Kijabi, that's the one. You know you can use a service like one of those where you're using their tools, their platform, all you need to do is sign up, pay them and then put all of your content in and they take care of the rest. So that's the quick route of doing it without worry too much about the technical side. Problem with that is those costs involved and also your building on somebody else's platform. So if they decided it is time they want to shut down, there's no great deal you can do about that. So the other side of things is to create yourself and probably one of the most accessible ways to do that certainly the most affordable is to build a platform on Wordpress. Yeah I'm sure you listeners will know what Word press is if you don't it is a content management system that powers about twenty five percent of the internet now I think they just hit that milestone, so and it's free. So what we mainly do is centred around Wordpress-based membership sites but there are about twenty or thirty different membership programs you can use all of them with slightly different feature set. All of them with strengths and weaknesses and weird quirks, so just figuring out which plugin to use is a challenge in itself especially if you're not technical. And then obviously you need to kind of put it all together and get e-mail system hooked up to it, get your payment system hooked to it and get on flowing. So that's the biggest challenge that we find everybody has unless you're a web developer, unless your technically minded, or unless you hire somebody to do it for you.

Darren: It’s one of thise things that is certainly worth the investment isn’t it, do we so more and more membership like sites that are actually started to manifest as Facebook groups and pages but for exactly the problem that you mentioned all it takes is a change in terms and conditions or Facebook to close and you've lost your business.

Mike: Absolutely and you know having been around on Facebook since you know, the early days when it became available outside the US. I’m quite well aware of just how volatile they can be in terms of what features they offer and what services run through their platform. So, you know they've changed so many different things so many different times. I actually used to run a couple of Facebook apps back in the day when you could have like applications and widgets and add-ons on your Facebook profile. And so I had these various different applications that made me a little bit of money that were all based around the idea that you know, this stuff would appear on your Facebook profile. And then overnight they just got rid of that you know and you kind of just have to accept it that ok, they've made a decision, it's their platform it’s their ball, they want to take it home and decide that that particular element of their platform you rely on for your business isn't worth them doing anymore, and then you're screwed so Facebook decide that they no longer want you to be able to operate groups for commercial reasons If they decide that they don't want groups anymore at all or that they want to merge groups with Facebook pages or other want to charge for it or that they want to limit your members. Who knows they could do that tomorrow, and if you're building a membership community where the bulk of what your product is the community side of things but it's on Facebook then what are you going to do you know, if they decide to change the rules of the game. So, yeah a lot of people go that route for the actual community side of things because it's easier and because it's free, but it's a risk, it's like building... you know about the wise man building his house on the rocks instead of the sand that kind of thing you know, if you got your community on Facebook you are very much building your business platform on somebody else’s sand.

Darren: …and you will always get the people that will say Facebook is going nowhere that it’s around forever but unless you can hundred percent guarantee that, there's always a possibility.

Mike: Yeah I mean Facebook are probably not going anywhere, I mean they're a behemoth but you know the Facebook today isn't going to be the Facebook of 2019,2020. You know the Facebook of 2015 isn't the Facebook of 2010. There have been so many monumental changes to the core feature set and lots of stuff that's it's impossible to predict. Who knows whether Facebook groups will be the same whether they'll even be around in two or three years’ time? You never know and if anything Facebook have proven over the years that they don't exactly reach out and consult with their members over what they'd like to see, they just do it. And they do it for their own reasons. And there’s nothing you can do about it. So I personally don't like having NO control over something that is a core business asset. It’s crazy.

Darren: For anyone who is listening to us and also thinking membership communities sound like a great idea but I do worry about those technical aspects. Being a member of your community solves those problems for them.

Mike: I'm not going to say solve because we don't build the websites for you.

Darren: But you’ll give them advice on how they go about doing it?

Mike: Yeah absolutely. It certainly eases the process you know, we have courses you know step by step on how to set up different membership plug-ins and platforms so you know we actually have walk through for the more popular membership plug-ins. So you follow along to those rather than kind of just been left trying to figure it out yourself. And of course you know we've got courses for every stage so if you just at the ideas stage or if it or even if you're at the stage rest I have got about three or four possible ideas buzzing in my head, no idea if any of them are any good. We've got courses in place to get you from that point through to having a final idea that's well researched, it's valid, you're proven that people have an interest in it, you know how that's going to be translated to a membership site. And you've got a plan of action for making that happen. And then from there as you say we've got the technical walkthrough which show you how to set up your membership site; how to set up Wordpress and then we go all the way through into how to actually attract members,   how to on-board them, how to keep them, how to grow your, sites have these kind of marketing or everything, I mean we you know, it's not like it's just one course that you have to follow we've got a library of courses that you can just kind of pick from according to wherever you are, whatever it is you want to achieve. So even if you've got a membership plan that has been up for three or four years, and you're just looking for ways to kind of move the needle to get more members or keep them sticking around, we've got courses available for that as well. And we’re adding new course all the time. We do monthly live training with the masterminds, we go out there and we negotiate and haggle with membership plug-in developers to get some discounts just for our members. We even write our own plug-ins and make those available to our members too. So we're putting everything into this as I said that's probably because we're very much under the microscope as a case study. So we have to...

Darren: I think the great thing about that as well is actually it's also very affordable membership so we've talked about the examples of you know building seven figure businesses but actually for someone that does have an idea or who is just starting out thirty-nine dollars a month is not a major investment to see whether it's something that's actually going to take off.

Mike: It's not all you know, the main reason that we kept them affordable, we kept the monthly option rather than kind of locking people into an annual or quarterly is just so it's easy to make a start because we know what it's like to be at that stage one you know that's square one position

Darren: Absolutely

Mike: And kind of just needing that support needing those resources so you know it's really if you are just looking at the idea of doing this then, it’s a very good place to be and from you know, from the beginning.

Darren: So just to wrap up I think it would be great to talk about some action steps. I think one obvious action is join your community because there's so much information in there, it's a great place to figure out whether it's the right thing for you to do but also have the support moving through those first stages, yes.

Mike: I would actually say we recommend and this isn't just because we have the academy. You know one of the best ways to get some clarity and to figure out how to approach a membership site is to join other membership sites. You know between myself and Callie we’re probably involved in about ten other membership sites. You know that's not just so we can spy on whether or not to do this because actually you know this is what we do we love communities; we are always trying to expand our learning but seeing how other people do things, seeing what works, what appeals to you. Taking ideas and inspiration and stuff like that makes sense if you want to create a membership site to get into the membership site and to model what works. So, we tell that to our own members as well you know go out there and join one or two membership sites and you know, take any lessons you can take from there as well and apply them to your own project.

Darren: Are there any of the tips that you give people just starting out or trying to come up with an idea.

Mike: What I would say if you’re just starting out don't rush into the creation side of things. Don't rush into the technical side and the building side of your membership site. Take a little bit of time to actually make sure that the idea that you've got that you're convinced is a million dollar idea. Make sure that it's actually a decent idea. You know, do some validation, do some research. You know, that can just be as simple as putting up a waiting list page on your site. And driving traffic to it and see if anybody registers their interests or you know, if you already have a business, you already have an audience or a following, speak to them find out what they want to know; survey your audience. And when you survey the audience don't say would you buy this or how much would you buy it for because even with the best intentions the answers you got from those sort of questions mean nothing. You know because a lot of people will say yes I'll buy this out of politeness. But certainly tap into your audience to get information on what challenges that they have, what knowledge gaps do they have, what do they feel they would benefit from in order to get the results they want. Spend that time researching and validating that your idea is good because there's no worse time to find out that your idea actually isn't commercially valuable. There's nowhere to found out that when you launch your membership site. You spend all the time, you spend a lot of money creating it, and then it's crickets because nobody wants to buy it because there was never a market for it in the first place. So invest time, don't get carried away just running off to the site yet. Don't ask friends and family if they think it's a good idea because the probably not qualified, they're probably not going to match your customer profile, your customer avatar, and they're obvious going to tell you that's a good idea. So that's tip number one. Tip number two: when you launch your membership site, again don't get carried away with these ideas of seven and eight figure launches. We talk about the kind of... ours was a seven figure business; it didn’t start as a seven figure business you know. Don't look at all these Internet marketing “gurus” who will tell you that they are making ten billion dollars in their sleep while only doing three minutes of work a month its B.S. its rubbish you know. Be realistic, be grounded, be sensible about your expectations because I have seen this before you know, people have launched membership site and in the first month they’ve attracted one hundred members and maybe made three or four thousand dollars. And they get disappointed with that you know, and they've done that from a list of maybe three or four hundred people. So it's actually good but because they see all these braggers running around talking about how you can become an overnight millionaire with a membership site or whatever they get disappointed, they get down hearted as a result they lose momentum with their membership site. So they’re my two tips, first of all make sure your ideas are actually go, put in the time, the work to validate that your idea has commercial potential. Don't get seduced by all this B.S. stuff about seven figure launches and all that stuff. From my experience, the people who make that kind of money don't talk about the fact they made that kind of money, they don't. You know if someone's tweeting about how much money they made that month they didn't make that amount of money. You can pretty much guarantee it. So, yes don't let that sort of stuff distract you from getting on with your membership business.

Darren: It’s a very good point isn't I think it's very easy to look at those stories and just suddenly get the dollar signs in your eyes and feel very aspirational. But not really appreciating how much work is going to have to go into doing something like that.

Mike: Definitely and you know there are people out there who bring crazy amounts of money with their membership site you know Marie Forleo has probably got one of the most financially successful membership sites in the world. She makes insane amounts of money. But she has a huge team behind her, she has an army of affiliates, she has year worth of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in building her brand- building her business. So you know if you're all looking to launch a membership site and you're just getting started and you comparing yourself to Marie Folios B. school then you need to render them a little bit and again I've seen clients, I have seen other people do that you know, they set their expectations based on what Marie Forleo’s B-School earns in a year. That's just nuts. You know that's like setting up a little computer shop and then looking at ok how much did Bill Gates make last year. You know it's crazy.

Darren: I think it goes back to what you said before about deciding what your personal targets are and what would make you happy and if you can kind of reach that point be satisfied and then think about the next level.

Mike: Definitely, definitely.

Darren: Excellent, well thank you very much for speaking to us Mike, really informative. I think membership site is a really exciting area that is just growing- more and more people can apply to it but perhaps just need a little bit of guidance in the early stages.

Mike: Definitely I think yeah the time has never been better to add that as an element to your business and like you said, just move away from that time for money trap where your ability to make money in your business is related to how many hours you can put in. You know if you're charging on an hourly rate then actually you can leverage your time, you leverage your skills, your knowledge and expertise better. So you're making money on a one to many basis rather than just a one-to-one client basis.

Darren: So for more tips like this the best plain thing to do in the first instance is perhaps head to your site, have a listen to your podcast, as well lots of free advice on there...

Mike: Definitely and we put out there an episode every week now actually that started out just as a kind of thing that I just did because I like the sound of my own voice. And then when we launch them inside the academy we actually had quite a number of people came, and they still do, came from the podcast. And so I was like oh, we better actually start taking this seriously now so we put out an episode every week whereas before it was maybe every two, three, four weeks whenever I got the urge to rant for a bit. So yeah we probably put an episode on podcast every week. It’s all just around the subject of membership sites and then we usually post a blog once or twice a week as well. So yeah definitely check that sort of stuff out before you even look at member site academy you know because that will tell you a lot about the sort of approach we've come at the subject from. It’s very non B.S.none Internet marketing scammy approach that some people, some people do still spend a lot of time in search for this silver bullet that is going to unlock untold riches for their online business. So if that's the stuff that you want probably not worth checking it out but if you're a bit more sensible is definitely where to look.

Liz: If you'd like to know more about the membership guys and how they can help you grow your own community check out my website on

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